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Old April 25 2013, 12:32 PM   #72
Jim Gamma
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Re: Grammar Nazi Thread: Smooshing Words Together

lvsxy808 wrote: View Post
Blatant wrongness because of a lack of education (for which I blame the schools)
(Emphasis mine)

My mother is a teacher and she would take vehement exception to that proclamation. She spends a lot of time trying to teach her pupils (age 11) to read properly - unfortunately, the problem she encounters is that the childrens' parents do not read with their children, and do not spend time with them using English; the fact that they don't do so at home means that they won't do so in school. Even discounting non-native speakers (who will normally speak in their own language at home), this is the case. In other words, no, it's not "the schools", it's "the parents".

To give you an example, by the time I was age 5, I had a reading age of 11 - this was not because of my school, it was because of my parents, who would read with me regularly (getting me to do much of the reading), talk and listen to us, and ask probing questions rather than questions we could answer with a "Yes" or "No". Many of the parents of the pupils my mother teaches will not read with their children, do not communicate with their children for the sake of it, and do not engage their children. My mother's school has asked native speakers of some of her pupils' native languages to talk with these children in their own language, and their grasp of their own language has had similar deficiencies to those found in her native English speaking pupils' grasp of English. It's not just a case of the schools not teaching, it's a case of the parents not doing the groundwork so that schools can teach.

Relying on schools to teach pupils how to read and speak English when in fact they should be learning it from their parents at a very young age (1-3 years old) is just pig-headed - it clearly doesn't work, because we learn most of our linguistic skills when we are toddlers. Schooling just formalises this and expands upon the basics that should already have been taught to us.

This is also why it's harder to learn a foreign language later in life - the older you get, the more ingrained your language and communication patterns become, and the harder it is to break out of them. My mother started throwing random French at my brother and I when we were about 3-5 years old, so when we got to secondary school, we were more capable of making the switch between linguistic styles. (I did three different foreign languages at GCSE level, when you had to do exams in speaking, reading, writing and listening. I attained A* in one, A in the other two. This is primarily because I understood how English was composed, and how French (and therefore other languages) could have a different structure.)
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